Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nanomech an American nano success story

Smalltimes has an article about Nanomech, a company out of Fayatville, Ar. which makes a number of products from particles of cubic boron nitride ( a diamondoid phase of inorganic graphite ) the best part I liked is their intention to keep the company 100% American. Hoorah for Nanomech!


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Thinking about national debt

The above linked article really got me thinking. There is one dimension of future expenditure which (and this is totally wishful thinking I admit!) could potentially absorb the vast run-off of debt which America is developing. The arenas of high tech evolution operate under rules of geometric progression. Electronics, IT and nanotech each produces orders of magnitude progression which would swamp an economy with surplus. But here's the catch: that wouldn't be an economy of shortages which allow governments ready control of the masses. Therefore the assorted control organizations of the world must stay ahead of this trend of accelerating returns. Venture capital which could go into the R&D of useful new media and products are absorbed by stock markets which over price already vested stocks and speculators drive up the price of required goods such as oil. These economic restriction coupled with government restraints prevent runaway technological development. And when these methods don't work another form of psycho-social engineering can be employed for instance as happened during the internet bubble in 2000. The over-hyping and subsequent burnout of web based businesses have left most investors scared of things technologically profound. A similar thing happened in biotech with the introduction of the "Frankenfoods" scare. Such psycho-social engineering (call it spin if you must) has all the hallmarks of classic mass control methodology. The saddest thing is, we all just give into the sound bites and image blurbs and let it work instead of exercising a little thought and behaving reasonably.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

As scientists go, they're great christians...

Once more people who should not be classified as either scientists or journalists are trying their hands as both. The Christian Science Monitor decided to demonstrate it's multiple levels of ignorance today. Apparently Pater N. Spotts has trouble grasping the concept of a nanometer (not even close to 1/800th the width of a human hair) and he also has no idea who Buckminster Fuller is or why buckyballs are called buckyballs. This fella should get a job in a carwash so that some nice illegal immigrant could move up into a better paying job.


Monday, April 17, 2006

More nano safety hype

Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. were the ones to get it this time. The above linked article is another great example of hit-and-run journalism. Scarey images of carcinogen laden workers are paraded before the readers eye like a plutonium laden head of cabbage from the Monsanto farm factory. Typical of touchy-feely leftwing lying elite reportage the Northwest Arkansas News does nothing to provide us with real information or any sensible warning. Instead they spin a hype of "Men in grease-stained blue coats" and Nano-magic (the improperly repackaged aerosol product from Germany which contained neither Nano nor Magic ) mad hatters are thrown in for good measure, just in case they didn't push all your worker safety buttons.

Yes, it's true that worker safety needs to be addressed in every industry and yes, nanotech is a new field. But do we really need agenda driven journalism to dictate who and how these issues are confronted? N.A.N. does give Altair credit for inviting inspection by federal investigators from NIOSH but only after cranking the hype and then immediately qualifying the rest of the industry as hiding it's collective heads from inspection. Of course these proprietary operations don't want everyone knowing what and how they're manufacturing. In nanotech, keeping a secret may be your only edge. But that doesn't mean the industry as a whole is indifferent to worker safety. Far from it, in almost every arena of nanotech worker safety must be frontline and every manufacturer knows it. 30 years of asbestos lawsuits assures that in the very least.

Are we seeing truly deep seated concern here, or is this just another attempt at control and suppression by the same forces which were brought to bare on genetically modified foods? (to the everlasting despair of millions of starving people in southern Africa today ...)


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rutgers Team's Coal-to-Diesel Breakthrough

Rutger's university and the University of North Carolina have refined a method of converting coal into liquid petroleum. After reading the above linked article I am put on the look out for "the Barrier". This research looks like it could be put directly into practice and with the vested interests of the petroleum giants being threatened you just know that something has to come along and either lock this up or prevent it from preceding. On the other hand, the coal industry isn't exactly chump change so maybe they will be able to keep these researchers alive long enough for this to come to fruition. With imminent threats from several oil producing nations (Iran and Venezuala come to mind) upon our supplies as well as the continuing intransigence of the oil refining monopolies which are determined to squeeze every dollar from the consumer they possibly could, the development of a competing supply of any petroleum fuel would be a blessing to the general public and the American economy. Wouldn't it be sweet to tell OPEC to kiss our tail pipes? Let's all pray that this promising research is allowed to flourish rather than being blunted by the vested interests of a greedy few.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Singularity: is it near enough?

Just got through reading as much of Ray Kurzweil's new book as I could stand. No offense Ray, I really respect you as a futurist and as a software engineer (that's 26+ years of experience talking) but seriously, did you really need that many pages to tell us the same thing over and over again? Yes, we get it, compound interest can really explode after a while.

I think what bugged me most about Ray's well written but somewhat beat-a-dead-horse book was his complete disregard for social forces in the midst of his predictions. The singularity might indeed be near, but is it near enough? Iran is perhaps only a short time out from having nuclear weapons which I guarantee you they will use. North Korea already has them and a dictator who just needs to get a little more insane or senile before he starts blowing the crap out of anything that bugs him. Will the vast, godlike super intelligence of "nano-neoman" arrive in time to prevent these and other socially driven events? If al-Qaeda succeeds in blowing up any important oil supply lines or co-opting anymore significant governments what will happen to that ferocious feedback engine which is driving Moore's law? The U.S. government can't even come to terms with the clear and obvious solution to the illegal immigration problem and already we've seen the first case of nanotech caused consumer health problems (in Germany info Here ) how will they hope to grapple with the issues of safety, efficacy, funding, control, etc. etc. that nanotech will soon be dumping into everyone's life?

I guess all things considered I shouldn't be so hard on Ray. He's such a bright fella. I'm not sure where to point my "frustration finger" but I do know I'm frustrated. For eight years now I've been reading about scads of technologies being developed in the lab and by industry and so very little of it has actually ended up coming to fruition. It really does seem as if social forces constantly move to mop up or suppress those advances which would bring the most good to the most people. A counter example of this is South Korea where some 71% of households have high speed internet access. Why? Their government recognized something beneficial to everyone and helped subsidize widespread development. This sort of interference didn't kill their economy or put anyone out of business, it simply provided a huge chunk of their population with a positive service. But this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

And so I wonder, will the singularity ever be allowed to manifest? Or will the incompetence, vested interests and hidebound social self-reflection constantly move to keep it always near, but never near enough.


Magnetics get a new lease on life

With optical storage pulling into the terabytes region it looked like magnetic storage might be going the way of the dinosaur. But now a new bit format might just push that paradigm out for a few more years. If the technique described in the link above were to use so called "Squish and Flash" or nano-imprint lithography (NIL) instead of electron beam epitaxy it could be brought into commercial production in a short enough time to temporarily beat out optical. NIL is already being used to fashion some optronic devices and Intel and IBM have been investigating it for at least some of their future uses. NIL in it's current form is especially effective in any process which requires only one or two sets of patterns applied as would be the case with a storage device.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A slew of new nano developments

Technology Research News has a nice compilation of recent and very interesting Nanotech oriented developments this week. I'm quite impressed with this set of research efforts, all of which give me great ideas for further efforts. Check it out with the link above. The very first article "Foundry in a fiber" is especially intriguing and sets the ol' mental wheels a-spinnin' especially if you think about some of the recent developments with nanofluidics.


Monday, April 03, 2006

A step towards MNT

Molecular Nanotechnology has been hovering in the future fog for a while now. Only this last year has the government's Nanotechnology Initiative finally recognized it as a possible area of funding. Now a Japanese university has developed the first molecular scale "grasper" which is a sizeable step in the right direction (link above.) This can be added to the growing list of items making sizeable inroads against an engineering problem which only a few years ago was described as impossible. That list includes several molecular motors, circuit elements and even a small collection of "nanocars", molecules which have a chassis and actual rotating wheels. Intra-molecular rotation was once thought of as a major stumbling block in the design of the nano-actuators necessary to design a molecular assembler.